《An article previously published on Mending the Nest.》
Divorce has to be one of the worst experiences a human being can go through in their life. During that turbulent time leading up to your day in court, who wants to be in the same room as their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, let alone take a friendly picture with them? Not many people.
When there are children involved divorce gets even more complicated and heart-breaking. You both love your kids and want what’s best for them, but those goals don’t often coincide with your ex’s. Let me tell you, though, that your children are just one of the reasons you need to take a divorce selfie with your ex spouse.
First, when you present this idea to them, the person you’ve been warring with for months or years, I can almost guarantee that you will get some amusement out of it. It’s difficult to focus on being mad at someone when you are taking a picture with them. You have to turn the camera around, get the right angle, both be smiling (not grimacing!) at the same time, do a couple takes…. The “awkward” will win out over the “anger” here and hopefully a tiny bit of joy will follow.
It’s so obvious that we celebrate the beginning of a marriage with fun and laughter and joy; maybe the end can be like that as well sometimes. We all do this thing where we get a picture in our head of how things are supposed to be and we can sometimes forget how they *could* be. Perhaps we still hate each other but we’re taking the picture anyway, for other reasons. That brings me to my second point.
One of the main reasons I took a divorce selfie with my ex-husband was for our son. Our son was five at the time of our divorce and he’d been through some trauma during the marriage. I wanted him to see a happy picture, a picture of two adults smiling and laughing and being friendly, even when we weren’t feeling like friends. How often do children have the opportunity to have a picture of their parents together once divorce becomes the end possibility? I’m betting not very often.
I’m sure by now you are reading this and thinking that kids can live without pictures of their parents, or that there’s no way your ex would go for this, or that there is just too much animosity right now. These are all valid points. If you don’t feel safe doing this, if you feel like it will lead to a fight – those are reasons not to attempt this. If, however, you are feeling sad, a bit lost, not sure about where you both stand *and* you share children? I would ask that you try this. Just try and see. Sometimes people can really surprise you.
My ex surprised me! He was more than willing to take several selfies with me. We had a very rough divorce. I didn’t feel safe in the marriage, I’m sure he didn’t feel heard or understood, and our son and his sons felt lost in the mess. It was not a good time for any of us. We even had a fight at the end of the day after paperwork was signed and we were on our way to leaving. I’m still glad we took that selfie and I will tell you why.
I look at that picture and do nothing but smile. I look at that picture and think of six years of marriage, full of some really great memories. I think of when our son was born and I had some very rare complications a month after. My husband slept in the hospital with me more nights than I could count. He rode his motorcycle in the New England winter to see me in intensive care. We raised his three wonderful sons together. We had the same stupid sense of humor and he made me laugh a lot. My favorite times with him were what we called “Walmart dates”. It was just running household errands, but we did it together and we had fun.
I look at that picture and I remember the sad times as well. I remember the fights. I remember the anger and the hurt that we both felt. Even the sad memories are still important. They remind us both why we are happier now and what we can build in the future.
That’s the third reason I have. It’s a reminder. You can choose which type of a reminder you want it to be.